Tag Archives: leftovers

Season-Straddling Quinoa Salad

20 Sep

I received a bag of red quinoa in the mail from a swap — that I’ll write about soon! — and I knew it would be perfect for a tasty salad. I rarely make grain salads because I find that many don’t keep well texture-wise. They get too clumpy and dry, especially rice. Similarly, I may be the worst architect of pasta salad in the world. I can’t remember the last time I made one that was much more than just edible. Quinoa is a good exception, however. It maintains its fluffiness well, and I find it far more filling cold than other grains. I think maybe it’s the quantity of the individual grains (or seeds, really, I guess).

(As a side note, the quantity discussion reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke: “I can’t eat spaghetti, there’s too many of them. No matter how hungry I am, 1,000 of something is too many.”)

Anyway, I adapted this recipe from one my friend and former book-group leader shared. It features a nice combination of summer and fall items, so I chose a ridiculous name to reflect it.

Season-Straddling Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped (peeled if preferred)
  • 1/2 a container of cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 green onions, sliced (green and white)
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup pecans

This is a very easy recipe. Just cook your quinoa in 2 1/2 cups of water. When it’s ready, put it in a large bowl with everything but the pecans. Chill and eat topped with pecans. Serves 6.

The salad keeps very well in the fridge and welcomes substitutes. You can use any color of quinoa, but the red gives it a nice color contrast with the greenery.

On another food note, yesterday I showed you the soup I made, but I wanted to mention the ways I have mixed it up in subsequent eatings. On Tuesday night, I reheated it in the slow cooker and added half the giant bunch of chopped rainbow chard, another 1/2 cup or so of chickpeas, and an additional chopped hot pepper.

And then I got home late last night, so instead of making the kale salad (on tonight’s menu now), I whipped up a serving of polenta for one (boil 1 cup water, whisk in 1/4 of cornmeal, and cook over a simmer, stirring constantly until it’s very thick, about 10 minutes). I then ladled a cup or two of soup over the top, mixed it all together until warm, and seasoned with additional pepper.

Mr. X calls polenta gruel, and I know it looks hideous, but I think it’s delicious. So there.

What’s your favorite way to upgrade or reinvent leftover soup?


Meatless Monday and Sunday Night Scramble: Tacos

28 Nov

Once again, I’m presenting a two-fer tonight.

Vegan MoFo has been fun, but it’s actually made me eat a little worse in an attempt to present interesting eats this month. In an effort to clean things up a bit, I’m going to do a week of eating based on Dr. Joel Fuhrman‘s Eat to Live starting tomorrow. So tonight, I wanted to finish off some not-so-healthy leftovers. The contenders: incredibly greasy (and delicious) fajita vegetables, half a can of black bean chili, and flour tortillas. The solution:

Fajitas! Wait, no, Quick and Easy Vegan Tacos! I mixed the rest of the salsa and some Chipotle Tabasco into them, too.

These could easily be made healthy by using a whole-wheat tortilla (Whole Foods makes my favorite kind), plain black or other beans, and veggies you saute yourself in a small amount of olive oil or vegetable broth. Defrosted frozen vegetables work well, too. There are also lots of fat-free refried beans on the market that are vegetarian, though the sodium count can be high. You can mimic them by lightly blending a can of beans and adding your favorite spices, such as cumin and cayenne. Guacamole would be a tasty addition, and I would have thrown in some nutritional yeast if I’d been thinking straight.

I hope your weekend was fabulous!

Gingerbread Pudding

27 Nov

I was a miserable failure at posting baked goods yesterday, but the truth is that I was just tired. I was too tired to bake and too exhausted to post anything other than my restaurant review. I didn’t bake today either, but I did whip up a double batch of Chocolate Gingerbread on Wednesday for my taller half’s family Thanksgiving. Four pieces remain, so I guess it was a hit. I used a slight modification on the original. In addition to doubling all the ingredients, I also:

  • Baked it in a 9×13″ pan instead of two 8x8s.
  • Added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Used about 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips.
  • Used 1/2 cup of maple syrup and 1/2 cup of black-strap molasses.
  • Substituted white sugar for the brown because of the molasses.

My taller half liked this batch better. I think the flavor was about equal to the first (different, but not improved), but they are moister and more brownie-like, which is nice.

I would like to state once again that I do not believe in leftover dessert. There is only dessert that has yet to be eaten. However, sometimes it’s fun to play dress-up with what remains a few days later. I was curious to turn a square into Gingerbread Pudding with the addition of a butter sauce. Enter this unbelievably easy recipe:

Quickie Vegan Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1 tablespoon homemade almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegan sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put it all in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Yes, that’s really it.

To make Gingerbread Pudding, add a slice of Chocolate Gingerbread into the bowl and spoon the sauce on top. Put it back in the microwave for 15 seconds. Eat and rejoice.

The sauce was incredible! The last thing I needed to do was figure out how to make my Chocolate Gingerbread full of more fat, sugar, and calories, but I did it anyway. I plan to eat the rest of the leftovers in a similar manner.

I hope everyone’s having as delightful a weekend as I am!

Meatless Monday meal idea and a Scramble all in one

7 Nov

Good morning! How did my American readers outside of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and most of Arizona enjoy falling back? I celebrated by getting up shortly before 7 a.m. Even with the time change, that’s a bit early for a Sunday.

Anyway, today I present to you a Meatless Monday meal idea that doubles as a Scramble meal (one that I actually had on Friday for lunch rather than Sunday night). It’s so easy that it almost doesn’t count as a recipe! This recipe is a tasty, fun way to use up leftover homemade salad dressing (like what I had from last week), which is why I decided to try it.

Vinaigrette Roasted Veggies

  • A serving size of leftover raw, cooked, or frozen veggies
  • 1-2 tablespoons of vinaigrette

Yeah, that’s all you need. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it or lining it. Gather your vegetables. Chop the raw ones into small pieces so they’ll roast faster. If you’re using frozen veggies, defrost them with a quick trip in the microwave, or begin thawing them in advance of the recipe. I had one raw potato and some frozen green beans to use up. Put them in a bowl and top with enough vinaigrette to coat:

Toss or stir to distribute the vinaigrette. Now spread them around on the baking sheet:

And put them in the oven until they are roasted to your preferences. Mine took about 20 minutes.*

I served mine up topped with cracked pepper and a small minced garlic clove. Delicious and perfect for a cold day.

*My potato and green beans were fine to sweat it out together. However, if you decide to roast two veggies with very different cooking times (e.g. a whole potato and some asparagus), then you’ll want to keep them separate on the sheet so you can remove the quicker-cooking vegetable when it’s done.

Still have more leftover dressing? Make Vinaigrette Garlic Bread!

  • Slices of bread (anything crusty works well; I used my focaccia)
  • Vinaigrette

Preheat the broiler and place a rack on the top row of the oven. Slice off as much bread as you want and spread some dressing on top:

When the broiler is good and hot, place the bread (on a baking sheet, a piece of foil, or directly onto the rack) under the heat.

It’ll only take three or so minutes for the edges to begin to brown. When they do, it’s done! I sprinkled black pepper and nutritional yeast on top, which was an excellent choice:

You can also pre-toast or pre-broil the bread on the other side before adding the vinaigrette, which will result in a firmer toast. Just make sure to watch it carefully. Mine stayed fairly soft in the middle. The bread is a great treat on its own, but it would also be good served with the veggies or on the side of a nice hearty vegetable soup. Though high in sodium, Amy’s Organic Fire Roasted Southwest Vegetable Soup is a favorite of mine.

If you want to celebrate Meatless Monday but don’t want to invest a lot of time or creativity, give these ideas a go!

Dinner of Keptlovinglyforlaters

22 Oct

I basically had a plate of leftovers for dinner, but to call them just that doesn’t seem fair. The term “leftover” sounds like yesterday’s discards. These, instead, were keptlovinglyforlaters. Behold the deliciousness:

Drool. In the middle is vegan potato soup. Above it is red quinoa salad with cranberries, pecans, mushrooms, and summer squash. And then we have two slices of rye bread topped with spicy pumpkin dip and paprika. More drool.

I can only take credit for the pumpkin dip; all the rest was made — including the bread — by a cook extraordinaire in my book group. We were each sent home with a plate of goodies. Mine made a perfect dinner tonight.

The dip is basically hummus plus pumpkin. I followed this recipe with a couple of alterations: I doubled (OK, tripled) the garlic, added a couple of dashes of both ground ginger and chili powder, and I topped it with paprika. It’s tasty, but I wouldn’t sell my mama for it. (Hi, Mom!)

And in case you’re curious, our book discussion was on A Reliable Wife. My review is here.

And now I must return to the task at hand:

I wonder if I can wait an hour until they’ve firmed up . . .


16 Sep

No, this post does not have anything to do with my brief stint at a certain local newspaper. It’s about good intentions, dreams for this blog to become something special. I had planned to introduce two features to this here blog: the Sunday Night Scramble (which made an appearance once) and the Meatless Monday Meal Ideas (which remains in a dark corner of my brain). They were going to be fun and educational. And they still will be if I manage to produce them. Forgive me.

Instead, for this week, I present the weekday version of the Sunday Night Scramble: the Monday Lunch and Wednesday Dinner Clean-the-Fridge Meals.

Someone (not me) was a sicky pants this weekend, so we decided to hold off on making our weekly grocery run Sunday, postponing it until Monday evening. This little swaparoo necessitated a creative lunch on the first day of the week. Enter the leftover express:

Before you is the rest of my (decidedly un-vegan) eggplant parmesan from Friday’s birthday dinner, vegan white bean spread concocted for some of the tea sandwiches, broccoli and snow peas from the party’s veggie trays, and a few carrots I bought for something I no longer recall. I don’t peel my carrots: is that gross? It’s a laziness and wastefulness thing. I did scrub ‘em good, though. (That’s an attempt to sound more Okie, which apparently is not my inclination, despite being born and raised here.)

(Also, I would like to point out there is a squiggly blue line under the word peel indicating that Word thinks I meant to type “I don’t feel my carrots.” Now that would be weird.)

Anyway, back to the food. This meal was, well, it was weird, but it was also tasty, and I ate it, and I didn’t starve to death. The end.

For my Wednesday dinner, I took a similar, though less eclectic, approach:

Whole-wheat linguine tossed with two small summer squash (cooked in 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil), lemon zest, fresh basil, crushed red pepper, nutritional yeast and two cloves of raw garlic. We had seven — seven — squashes in the fridge left over from my last farmers market run and a freebie from one of my taller half’s coworkers, so I didn’t want to let them go to waste. I also dined on squash Tuesday night. We had a couple of lonely lemons whose services were not required for the tea-colored lemonade, and I am a big fan of adding zest to veggie-filled pasta dishes. The basil was left over from the white bean spread, and all the rest – minus the pasta, which we bought – is stuff we always have around except in times of great tragedy.

How often do you make clean-the-fridge-or-pantry meals? It’s a favorite practice of mine.